08.05.07 Lollapalooza @ Grant Park, Chicago IL â€“ Sunday
Early morning thunderstorms have given way to the kind of muggy, humid conditions that make people want to crawl inside their air conditioners and wait for fall. But we're not most people, and so with a dab of sunscreen, a few bottles of water and a handful of bandanas we're back in the trenches to report all the events from Lollapalooza 2007's final bow.
It's obvious from the moment we walk into the gates that the gnarly heat is keeping people away, which is fine by us, as our walk to the Bud Light stage to see the ever-entertaining Cribs is largely unencumbered by the hordes of people that will undoubtedly arrive later. There's a modest crowd gathered for the upstart British urchins, and the Jarman boys don't disappoint, dipping into their tattered bag of tricks for a set that draws heavily from Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever but also includes plenty of old cuts for the faithful. Let's be serious, all three of the band's albums barely equal an hour's worth of material, so there's plenty on display here given their generous time allotment.
Cribs "Men's Needs"
After the Cribs decide they're done by dropping all their instruments and walking off, we stride across the field to the Citi stage to catch troubadour-in-training David Vandervelde do his glammy roots rock thing. Looking artfully disheveled in forlorn plaid and boots, Vandervelde plays a rollicking set that dips into T. Rex territory on more than one occasion and which also borrows heavily from The Band's pastoral pink oeuvre. He's entertaining as always, but honestly there's no shade at that stage and we're burning up on the pavement so we decide to duck for cover in the north field and wait for Amy Winehouse.
The troubled chanteuse draws a huge crowd for her Motown-meets-the-gutter performance, but the same sound problems that have dogged the Bud Light stage/North field are again rearing their ugly head, and it's difficult to hear her or her band for that matter. Things improve marginally during the set, but she's never quite at full volume. From what we can hear, the ragged, roughed-up live versions of "Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good" (sans Ghostface) are stunning, even if they don't quite eclipse their recorded counterparts -- Mark Ronson's wall-of-sound is quite hard to beat.
Amy Winehouse "Rehab"
Three minutes of watching the Annuals and we're convinced the hype surrounding them is total bullshit and that maybe Pitchfork don't really know what they're doing after all. The new Arcade Fire our asses.
After running the length of the grounds because we mistakenly think Iggy and the Stooges are playing the AT&T stage we arrive back at the Bud Light stage just as the first song is ending. The sound problems that plagued Winehouse are dealt with to a degree, or maybe it's just that the Stooges are that fucking loud that they bully the soundsystem into pumping out more heat. Iggy and the Ashetons have their set down to a science at this point, and even if their performance isn't as confrontational as their theater dates, there's still plenty of highlights - a blood-boiling version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog", a stage invasion during "No Fun" and a scorching reading of "1969" that makes everyone born after that date wish they were around back then. Iggy says "motherfucker" no less than 76 times during their set, and even though he recently turned 60, he still throws his sinewy frame around the stage the same way he did when he was 22. As my uncle has been known to say: Iggy and the Stooges are fucking rock 'n' roll -- he just might be right.
Iggy And The Stooges "I Wanna Be Your Dog"
Peter, Bjorn & John are the second "what the fuck" band of the day. Why are they popular? Don't they use their songs to try and sell Audis? We don't get it at all, though clearly the five 14-year old girls in front of us in the sweet tea line clearly do as their shrieking nearly deafens us.
Peter, Bjorn & John "Young Folks"
After a brief pot sticker break we're back in the South field for NYC proto-funkers !!! and our earlier assertions that they do indeed know how to throw down are proven correct by the tautness of their set. Nic Offers expletive-ridden command to turn off all the stage lights because "it's fucking hot up here" are begrudgingly obliged and the huge ensemble get back to the business of gettin' down. Hell, even the people camped out for Pearl Jam are groovin' in place to the band's steam-and-sweat powered punky-funkiness.
!!! "Must Be The Moon"
Offer's even wearing his nearly trademark inappropriately short shorts (or Larry Bird's for those in the know) and writhing on the floor having soundgasms like he's Ron Jeremy. Good, clean family fun, thy name is Chk Chk Chk.
Though tempted to go heckle Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse, we want to see My Morning Jacket rather badly and we don't really have the energy to traipse all the way back to the other field anyhow, so the decision is basically made for us. Jim James and MMJ saunter on in purple tuxedos, which leaves them looking like both parking valets and the coolest motherfuckers in the known world. We're not used to James' closely cropped mane, but when a band sounds as phenomenal as his, such things tend to quickly fall by the wayside.
My Morning Jacket "Anytime"
After a clutch of stellar jams the band is joined by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and their already monolithic sound is given extra boost by the army of sawing strings and majestic brass. The band's reputation precedes them, and for damn good reason, because James and MMJ are unquestionably one of the best live rock bands on the planet.
Brooklyn's TV On The Radio slightly edge James & Co. out in the best live band sweepstakes, and the fact that they only get 45 minutes is beyond a travesty. We'd flog somebody if only we knew who had relegated TVOTR to this slot. Regardless, in what is the final show on the band's 14 month trek for Return To Cookie Mountain they absolutely torch the place, infusing heavy metal grooves into "Young Liars" and "The Wrong Way" and transforming "Wolf Like Me" and "Province" into snarling beasts that topple skyscrapers and leave huddled masses cowering in their wake.
TV On The Radio "Staring At The Sun"
Due to the aforementioned time constraints (and the fact that MMJ went long) the band are forced to quit just as they're getting ready to obliterate the city, but they leave us with a delirious version of "Staring at the Sun" that has the whole crowd testifying right along with Tunde, mouth-frothing babbling and shaking included. The leave the stage with the whole crowd chanting "one more song", but there's nothing they can do, they must acquiesce to the evening's headliners.
As we're walking away, ready to leave the grounds and this year's Lollapalooza behind we hear the same diehards chanting "fuck Pearl Jam" and we can't help but laugh. As we hear the grunge-y strains of "Why Go Home" bellowing from the main stage, we can't help but concur because as we overhear one punter say, "I'd take another 5 minutes of TV on Radio rather than 2 hours of Pearl Jam".
Pearl Jam "Evenflow"
And with that we're off, having ushered another Lolla into the history books, walked more miles than a marathon and written more on the subject than we ever thought we would. With any luck, we'll be joining Perry for Kombucha tea in his private cabana next year.